Monday, 29 March 2010

It's good news week at the big W

Except it will soon be a small w. Waterstone's has announced a rebranding programme, moving to lower case "w" as the logo. The will be "rolling out a new brand", having announced that "It's important that we re-engage with our customers in a much more impactful way", getting away from the "stifling homogeneity" of the recent past. Never mind the dreadful construction "much more impactful way", this is good news for all readers, most publishers, Waterstone's (or is that now to be waterstone's?) staff, and people who write real books.
Provided budget follows promise, it looks like a return to more autonomous branches, which can better reflect the book buying public locally. There are nice words being said about working with local publishers and local writers and a significant reduction in floor space devoted to price promotions. I assume that with the closure of Borders there is less need for price promotion. But even the announcement that branches can put up their own best-sellers list indicates a return to trusting branch staff who have in the past had to cope with merciless centralisation and big redundancies.
A big independent in every town and city would be great, but that is not going to happen, so the health of the Waterstone's chain is important. Some have argued that the business model of Borders/Waterstone's is over. Maybe, but these changes will give the chain a fighting chance to survive. And make it nicer to work there.

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